Public Release:  Women who consume large amounts of tea have increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis

Association between coffee consumption and RA not found

European League Against Rheumatism

Rome, Italy, Friday 18 June 2010: Women who drink tea have an increased risk of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) compared with those who drink none (p=0.04), according to results presented today at EULAR 2010, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Rome, Italy. Further results from the same study showed no correlation between the amount of coffee consumption and RA incidence (p=0.16).

The results of the US based longitudinal cohort study involving 76,643 women showed a positive association of incident RA in tea drinkers with an increasing Hazard Ratio (HR) observed alongside tea consumption (p=0.03). Consuming any amount of tea carried a significant risk of developing RA (HR 1.40 (95%CI 1.01-1.93) p=0.04) and women who drank ≥4 cups of tea per day had an increased risk of developing RA compared to those who drank none (HR 1.78 (95%CI 0.83-3.82)). An analysis of the method of preparation of coffee (filtered vs unfiltered) and presence or lack of caffeine in the beverage did not show any significant associations with RA or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system harms the body's own healthy cells and tissues) (RA: filtered p=0.08, unfiltered p=0.38, SLE: filtered p=0.74, unfiltered p=0.97). No increase was shown in the risk of developing RA in participants who drank coffee compared to those that did not (RA: HR 1.09 (95%CI 0.77-1.54 p=0.63).

"We set out to determine whether tea or coffee consumption, or the method of preparation of the drinks was associated with an increased risk of RA or SLE - it is surprising that we saw such differences in results between tea and coffee drinkers," said Professor Christopher Collins, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, USA. "This does make us wonder what it is in tea, or in the method of preparation of tea that causes the significant increase in risk of developing RA."

Data on women aged 50-79 were taken from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study database (a major 15-year research program to address the most common causes of death, disability and poor quality of life in postmenopausal women) where participants completed a self-administered questionnaire providing information on daily consumption of coffee and tea.

The relationships between drinking tea and coffee and the risk of RA or SLE were assessed in age-adjusted models and in multivariate Cox proportional hazard models (a statustical approach to estimating survival data). At three years follow up, the diagnosis of incident RA was determined using self-reporting and respondent's feedback on use of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS). The variables studied in the RA population were also investigated in women with SLE, but no significant associations were found.

"These are very interesting findings and we hope that additional research will investigate this topic further. We do assert the need for caution in the interpretation of these findings as no strong causation effect has been confirmed, and encourage patients with rheumatic diseases to consult their physician before making any significant changes to their diet or caffeine intake" said Professor Paul Emery, President of EULAR and arc Professor of Rheumatology, Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Leeds, UK

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Abstract Number: FRI0108

For further information on this study, or to request an interview with the study lead, please do not hesitate to contact the EULAR congress Press Office on the 1st floor in Hall 5 of the Congress Centre during EULAR 2010 or on:
Email: eularpressoffice@uk.cohnwolfe.com
Rory Berrie: Onsite tel: +44 7901 513 297
Caroline Butt: Onsite tel: +44 7789 270 392

About EULAR

  • The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) is the organisation which represents the patient, health professional and scientific societies of rheumatology of all the European nations.
  • In line with The European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS), EULAR defines rheumatology as including rheumatic diseases of the connective tissue, locomotor and musculoskeletal systems.
  • The aims of EULAR are to stimulate, promote, and support the research, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of rheumatic diseases. To this end, EULAR fosters excellence in education and research in the field of rheumatology. It promotes the translation of research advances into daily care and fights for the recognition of the needs of people with rheumatic diseases.
  • EULAR 2010 is set to be the biggest rheumatology event in Europe with over 15,000 scientists, physicians, allied health professionals, and related audiences in attendance from over 100 countries. Over the course of the congress, almost 300 oral and more than 1600 poster abstract presentations will be featured, with 300 invited speaker lectures taking place in more than 140 sessions.
  • To find out more about the activities of EULAR, visit: www.eular.org

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